Yes, I’m Gone to Carolina in My Mind!

There’s something about that hauntingly beautiful song that makes me indescribably homesick. If you graduated from UNC, you understand exactly what I’m talking about-those lyrics just make you remember. Something incredible springs to life as the first notes float into the air-and all of the sudden, no matter where you are-you close your eyes and for the briefest instant, you slip back home. I’ve known for months that when it was finally time to write this last blog just before hopping in a taxi to drive to the airport, that’s what I’d title it.

Tomorrow, I fly home!

 My [unworn] “practical stilettos” and cheerfully polka-dotted rainboots are tucked safely away into the bright blue, monogrammed duffel bag that stood in such stark contrast to the gray city last October when I stepped out of the dilapidated airport and into the unfamiliar and uncomfortable. In a concerted effort to not do any more laundry by hand than I absolutely must, I’m rather mortified [and strangely proud] to admit that both of my duffels are bursting

Saying goodbye to Sophie a couple of days ago.

with dirty clothes that I can’t wait to run through a washing machine! [Though let’s be honest-did anything ever get truly clean when I washed it this year?] I may wash everything twice-just because I can! My Starbucks gift card is in my wallet [thanks Mr. Seamon!], my American cell phone is charged [and yes, the ring tone is still Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is you”], and I have a stack of books in my carry-on that will almost certainly go largely un-read in favor of catching up on all the movies I’ve missed and buying a stack of overpriced magazines at JFK.

 

Last night, my team and I had one last pancake night. As we sat around the table eating stacks of chocolate chip pancakes and remembering out loud, I was struck by the simple fact that we are not the same five people that eagerly boarded that flight to Dakar last year. I am no longer that girl. I moved to Africa to share the gospel with people that don’t have another way of hearing it, and ended up learning that I need it every bit as desperately as the Muslim students that answer the call to prayer five times a day. What a wonderful, difficult, unexpected, painful, glorious process it has been to begin to understand that the gospel is not a story-it’s something that has to saturate and transform every shadow and nuance of my life. Not just the comfortable pieces, or the ones I feel like giving over to Jesus-all of it. God taught me that this year by taking away almost everything that I thought was valuable and necessary-and then showing me that He’s the only thing that I really need. Knowing Him and being loved by Him—that is enough! Jesus gave all of Himself for all of me—and I love learning what it looks like to respond with my life! Not casual, perfunctory devotion-but wholehearted, passionate pursuit of the God that has always  pursued me first and best.

"You must forgive me if I'm up and gone to Carolina in my mind..."

Today is a whirlwind of “lasts” in Dakar-last memories [for a while] with four of my favorite people in the world. One last Sunday morning team church. One last meal cooked on a hot plate, one last conversation with the fruit stand man, one last taxi-bartering battle, one last night sleeping on the  floor, one last relaxing run on the beach. More reflections on this year and my team will certainly come this summer—but for now, I’m off to say goodbye to the city that has slowly become mine! I can’t wait to be home—if you hear about a girl getting arrested for causing a scene at JFK around lunchtime tomorrow, that will mean my attempts at self-control upon seeing Starbucks were the dismal failure that I expect them to be. And just a warning: I intend to throw my arms around the neck of the first man to so much as open my door for me, and kiss him square on the mouth. […just kidding, Daddy.] How drastically my life is about to change-everything from the way I’m treated to the food I eat to the way I dress and the people I’m around.

 And I am silly excited. :)

 Carolina, I’ll see you in just a couple hours! “I’m gone…”

Comments

  1. I’m so excited for you! Eat some amazing cheese grits for me….man. And seriously, a decaf latte with soy? Be still my heart. Enjoy every moment and think of the rest of us who aren’t getting that break from the cold water (and just fyi- you upgraded and got a tub…I haven’t explained that I think that’s still unfair and have been pining for God to answer my prayers and drop one in my garden in the morning instead of the newspaper…..I’ll let you know how that goes!!!) Enjoy for real. Many hugs and see you in like…2 months! Maybe we can go to Target together. :P

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